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13 churches to close across Inverness and Nairn in sweeping Church of Scotland reforms

The East Church building in the centre of Inverness is due to be released for re-use or sale this year. Image
Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
The East Church building in the centre of Inverness is due to be released for re-use or sale this year. Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Church buildings in Inverness and Nairn are set to close and congregations united under a major shake-up confirmed by the Church of Scotland.

The East Church and Trinity Church buildings in the city are both set to shut by the end of this year.

St Stephen’s Church may also go following discussions on its future use.

The Kirk will release a further 11 buildings across the expanded Inverness Presbytery which now includes West Moray.

They include Ardersier where Dame Helen Mirren married director Taylor Hackford in 1997.

Two others are under review, but the Kirk has stressed the proposals will not result in the loss of any congregations.

At the same time, the number of ministers and support staff will drop by nearly 10 to 26.5.

Church of Scotland has too many buildings

The changes are part of a cost-cutting exercise by the Church which says it has too many buildings, including some not fit for purpose without major investment.

It follows a nationwide review following the 2021 General Assembly which called on each presbytery to become more effective.

Under the five-year plan, surplus or unsuitable buildings will be released.

In August, a leaked report suggested more than 30 buildings could eventually be released by the Church across the presbytery.

The Trinity Church building is earmarked for closure this year

The historic Old High Church in Inverness already closed its doors last year and has been put up for sale.

Dores Church is another landmark seeking a new owner.

The presbytery’s plans, coordinated by its mission implementation team, have now been approved by the national Church’s faith nurture forum and general trustees.

The Kirk says the “reallocation of resources” will create a platform for growth in the future.

Which church buildings are going – and when?

Inverness church closures and congregation changes

In Inverness, the East Church in the city centre will be closed by December 31 and its congregation united with Inshes Church.

The congregations of Dalneigh and Trinity Churches will merge, with the Trinity building closing by the end of the year.

It is proposed Inverness Christian Fellowship will use the church exclusively for a time with a view to it becoming their permanent home.

Kinmylies Church will also be retained.

Crown Church buildings, which were recently upgraded, will be retained, uniting with St Stephen’s in a re-shaped parish covering Crown and Raigmore.

The St Stephen’s building will potentially shut after a review of resources by the united congregation.

The landmark Old High Church closed its doors last year.

Hilton Church will remain as a base for the Inverness South parish with the congregations of St Columba’s and Inshes.

A new building is also being sought close to the Ness Side and Ness Castle developments.

Barn Church in Culloden will be retained and unite with the Petty and Ardersier congregations to serve the Culloden, Tornagrain and Ardersier area.

Petty Church is earmarked to close by the end of this year. Ardersier’s building, due to close in 2025, will be reviewed, with the possibility of a local mission church developing.

Church closures and changes east of Inverness – including Nairn

Nairn Old Parish Church will be retained, but the St Ninian’s, and Auldearn buildings will close.

The congregations will also unite with Dyke and Edinkillie, with the Edinkillie building closing and the Dyke church reviewed as a new multi-purpose community building is planned to serve new proposed housing developments.

Dores Parish Church has gone on the market for £70,000. Image: Reuben Tabner/ Church of Scotland.

North of Inverness church closures will see congregations including Kirkhill, Kiltarlity, Beauly and Struy unite

Kirkhill, Kiltarlity, Beauly and Struy congregations are due to unite, with a permanent home still to be decided.

The Struy building is proposed to close this year and those at Kirkhill, Kiltarlity and Beauly by the end of 2024.


The Daviot Church building is due to close in 2025.

Church closures south of Inverness to include Cawdor

The congregations in Cawdor, Croy, Tomatin and Daviot will unite with two centres of worship retained in Croy and Strathdearn.

The Cawdor building will close this year and Daviot by the end of 2025.

Croy Church is being retained and will be upgraded as a multipurpose building, while Cawdor Hall is also being kept.

Building numbers putting pressure on resources

A Church of Scotland spokesman said, like other presbyteries in Scotland, Inverness and West Moray have a historically high number of buildings which is now more than required.

This is putting increasing pressure on the Kirk’s resources as church attendance continues to change.

“Although we accept that the mission plan comes with an emotional cost, the Church remains open and the presbytery believes the necessary reforms will lead to growth and fruitfulness which is the purpose of pruning.

Crown Church of Scotland will be retained after recently being upgraded.

“The hard truth is the Church has too many buildings, a reality driven historically by disruption and reunion rather than mission, and some are not fit for purpose without a large investment.”

He said maintaining the current estate is costing the Church dearly in terms of overstretched human and financial resources.

This is diverting resources and attention away from its primary mission.

“The Church of Scotland is not a heritage society, but we will always seek to release buildings no longer fit for purpose sensitively and appropriately.

“It is our sincere hope that the mission plan will enable us all to rejoice together in what we will gain in terms of greater unity, shared resources, less duplicated administrative and practical work, and the fruit of new missional initiatives.”

Will Church of Scotland congregations be lost?

The spokesman emphasises no congregations are disappearing.

“Congregations are coming together, not unlike a marriage, to forge a new, shared identity and passion for working to advance God’s Kingdom together.

“It is important to note that the approved mission plan is not an end in itself but a beginning.

“It will be reviewed robustly each year and alterations could be made depending on circumstances.”

He added: “Whilst this will be challenging and bring understandable sadness for those who have been connected with a particular church for a very long time, these proposals will ensure the Church is able to continue to meet the spiritual and practical needs of its community.”

He said buildings no longer required might be considered for other purposes or for sale.

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